By Elizabeth Williams, Senior Professional Officer (Wales)
We have already published on the website and in our monthly newsletter, the guiding principles the Cabinet Minister has set out to inform decisions made about returning to school. This was confused somewhat after the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on Sunday 3 May 2020.
During the interview, the First Minister said that the Welsh Government had been in discussion with the local authorities and the trade unions and that it had been agreed that there would be a phased return to school in June with a lead-time of three weeks. The First Minister also indicated certain priority groups for returning to school, such as disadvantaged children, those with additional learning needs and children from English-speaking families attending Welsh-medium schools.
This was the first that Voice had heard any of this, despite our twice-weekly meetings with senior Welsh Government officials, and a meeting with the Cabinet Minister herself last Thursday!
Today, 5 May, I attended a further union meeting with Welsh Government officials, and they have definitively stated the following:
- NO date has been set for a return to school;
- a return to school is NOT imminent;
- the safety of learners and staff is paramount, along with the other guiding principles;
- there are many complex factors to consider before a date and a lead-time can be set;
- NO decisions have been made regarding the priority groups to return to school; and
- the natural inclination of the Welsh Government is to follow England’s decision-making as much as possible but, if Wales needs to make different decisions, it will do so.
I hope that this alleviates some of your concerns but do please continue to call to discuss further if this would be helpful. I am always happy to hear from our members in Wales.
Update 7 May 2020
Welcome news: Situation for schools will not change on June 1st, Education Minister says 7 May 2020